Should You Trade Jonathan Taylor in Fantasy Football?

Indianapolis Colts RB Jonathan Taylor will return to practice this week. Should fantasy football managers target him in the trade market before he debuts?

Indianapolis Colts RB Jonathan Taylor was fantasy football royalty during his first two seasons before struggling last season and starting this year on injured reserve (IR).

The former All-Pro back is expected back at practice this week, and the Colts have 21 days to officially activate him. There may be a ramp-up period in practice before he joins the active roster, but all signs point to progress being made this week.

Should you be taking the temperature of your league when it comes to Taylor’s value, or is it wise to pass on the headache?

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Should Fantasy Football Managers Trade for Jonathan Taylor?

This is very much a situational question and your ability to take on risk. If you’re a 0-4 team struggling to piece together consistent production, Taylor shouldn’t be on your radar.

Outside of that situation, I’m poking around to see how the Taylor manager values him.

If the Taylor manager is struggling, JT may be available for pennies on the dollar as he/she looks to recoup any usable pieces that provide help in the short term.

Selling Taylor in Trade Negotiations

In trying to pry away a big name like Taylor away from the team that currently holds him, you have to negotiate. I’ll lay out the reason why you should want him in a minute, but before we get there, you have to be prepared to persuade.

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Zack Moss has been a workhorse (66 carries over the past three weeks), and the Colts have won two of those games. He is providing balance for rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson, so why would the franchise want to insert an unhappy RB into this development plan?

We don’t know when Taylor will return to game action, and when he does, could the Colts really give him a featured role and send Moss to the bench? Is it possible that Taylor finds a way to return to practice but not game action as he seeks a big contract elsewhere and simply wants to make it to this summer at full strength?

Taylor Bounce-Back Stats

OK, now that you’ve planted the seed in the head of the Taylor manager, it’s time to talk yourself into going after the 24-year-old.

In an offense that lacked creativity last season, Taylor scored on just 21.4% of his goal-to-go carries, a significant dip from his 34.5% career rate prior, tanking his fantasy value in the process.

Taylor shifting closer to his career mean is statistically likely on a spreadsheet, and it’s “football likely” when you consider the offensive options that present themselves with Richardson proving to be a true threat.

Let’s talk more about that because discussing Taylor’s talent level just seems silly. Here are a few of the top rushing quarterbacks and their impact on running back efficiency in 2022:

  • Jalen Hurts: Second in QB rush yards per game
    • Philadelphia Eagles: Seventh in RB yards/carry
  • Josh Allen: Third in QB rush yards per game
    • Buffalo Bills: Second in RB yards/carry
  • Marcus Mariota: Fifth in QB rush yards per game
    • Atlanta Falcons: Third in RB yards/carry
  • Geno Smith: Sixth in QB rush yards per game
    • Seattle Seahawks: Sixth in RB yards/carry

Richardson is already easily in the class of ground threat, so why can’t holes open up for Taylor in a major way?

On top of improved rushing numbers, you have the fact that Taylor has seen his routes per game tick up every season of his career (23.3 last season, sixth at the position).

The time to deal for Taylor is now, while there is still uncertainty surrounding him. If you wait and he has a big debut, the asking price is going to be that of a top-five running back because of his résumé.

Right now, with no clear timetable for a return to game action, could you not offer a struggling team a weekly starter like James Conner in a swing-for-the-fences type of move?

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What if you offered up George Pickens for Taylor, understanding that his value has the potential to tank with Kenny Pickett sidelined? Or maybe tried to capitalize on a good week from DJ Moore?

At the end of the day, you’re taking a chance. A chance that could sap your roster of depth but also one that could win you your league. If I’m off to a hot start and confident in my team, I’m kicking the tires on Taylor. For those of you who are playing the long game, here are Indy’s final three games this season:

  • at Atlanta Falcons
  • vs. Las Vegas Raiders
  • vs. Houston Texans

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